WASHINGTON Aug 30 The number of Americans
filing new claims for jobless benefits was unchanged last week,
pointing to a labor market that was treading water.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits were a
seasonally adjusted 374,000, the Labor Department said on
Thursday. The prior week's figure was revised up to show 2,000
more applications than previously reported.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims dipping to
370,000 last week. The four-week moving average for new claims,
a better measure of labor market trends, rose 1,500 to 370,250.
Jobless claims have risen by 10,000 in August, suggesting
some moderation in the pace of job growth this month after
payrolls increased 163,000 in July from 64,000 in June.
The state of the labor market, particularly the unemployment
rate, could determine whether the Federal Reserve will offer
additional monetary stimulus to the economy at its Sept. 12-13
The unemployment rate, which ticked up to 8.3 percent in
July, has been stuck above 8 percent for more than three years,
the first time this has happened since the Great Depression.
Although housing and retail sales data suggest that economic
activity picked up early in the third quarter, business spending
is weakening and inflation is slowing.
The number of people still receiving benefits under regular
state programs after an initial week of aid fell 5,000 to 3.32
million in the week ended Aug. 18. The so-called continuing
claims data fell during the week of the August household survey
from which the unemployment rate is derived.